Indonesia is blessed with a rich and diverse mix of traditional cultures and art forms. The basic principles which guide life across this colorful tapestry of life-styles include the concepts of mutual assistance or “gotong royong” and communal meetings and gatherings or “musyawarah” to arrive at a consensus or “mufakat” . Derived from the traditions of agriculturally based rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the country. Social life, as well as rites of a passage, are steeped in ancient traditions and customs, or “adat” laws, which differ from area to area. “Adat” laws have a binding impact on Indonesian life and have been instrumental in maintaining equal rights for women in the community. Religious influences on communal life vary from island to island and village to village, depending on local history.
Art forms in Indonesia are not only derived from folklore, as in many other parts of the world. Many were developed in the courts of former kingdoms, as in Bali, where they are integral elements of religious ceremonies. The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu mythology and often feature fragment from Ramayana and Mahabrata Hindu epics.